SOUND OFF with…
HLA Silicon Valley Chapter Member, friend, listener, and reader.
1. What was the moment when you realized that you had a hearing loss? What did you do about it?
When a music box by my bed did not produce music, I thought it was broken. Picked it up; I heard with one ear, but not the other. I got an immediate appointment with my primary care physician, was tested and then had many more appointments to determine the cause and suggest possible next steps. I didn’t know anyone with a profound hearing loss or what help was available.
2. How has your hearing loss affected your life?
We’ll never know if this was truly sudden onset or if it was a gradual loss. The result has been continual efforts to understand the loss and how to cope with it: searching for newer and better devices to bring hearing back into my life, overcoming the stigma of asking people to repeat or rephrase, using a large number of assistive devices, relying heavily on captioning, advocating for looping, educating family and friends on how to best communicate with me, being disappointed when I do not hear things that I really wanted to hear and not even knowing that I was missing things, and getting to know a whole new category of doctors and services of which I was completely unaware. I am not the only one that gets frustrated when I cannot hear. My husband, family, and friends experience the frustration of finding new ways to get me to understand. I often feel burdened to explain in businesses, offices, homes, venues, etc. why I did not understand what they clearly said the first time. I need to leave extra time for this when I go somewhere, especially for a first time visit.
3. What current issue related to hearing loss would you like to see addressed more? Why?
I would like to see more public facilities and venues looped, so that telecoil-equipped people, like me, can enjoy events and performances, like everyone else. I’d like to see hearing aids and other assistive devices be more affordable and information about hearing loss and its treatments more available to the general public. Too many people have a hearing loss or know someone that does and do not know what to do about it.
4. What would you like to tell the younger generation?
Turn down the volume on your music devices. I know it is impossible to understand now that not doing so may affect your ability to hear when you are older. Believe me, it is true!
5. What technologies are the most useful to you? How?
My number one device is my hearing aid, which is on from first thing in the morning, until I go to sleep. Without it and its installed telecoil, I would miss so much and annoy people with my questions. I also have amplified and captioned telephones, which are essential to me, a loud doorbell ringer, loud alarm clock and smoke detector, a Conversor to better hear the TV & radio, a loop pad to hear conversations in the car. Our HLA chapter meeting rooms are looped, as is my synagogue and many entertainment venues I have visited locally and on travels. I have cried at events when I couldn’t hear and had to sit for lengthy periods until an intermission to get assistance or leave.
6. I am a member of HLAA because…
I am a member of HLAA because other HLAA members understand my needs, frustrations, and experiences and continuously provide me with information and help, as well as opportunities to share what I have learned.